High-Functioning Flesh

It seems a complete mystery to me over how the phrase high-functioning is always perceived, or used in negative connotations. You would think that you were able to describe so many more items or activities in society as high-functioning in the way they are able to perform or fulfil that purpose to an exceptional degree. That tends not to be the case. While you could say that autism and Asperger’s could be fulfilling their role as a disability with flying colours, in making people’s considerably harder for them in a social and personal capacity, understandably we take that as an unfortunate and often horrific set of circumstances. Sadly, it is still often stigmatised, purely by those who don’t understand or are afraid of things not of the norm. But they are all human beings at the end of the day. They all have the same right to life as you, me or anyone else. They simply have to live life in a different or more difficult manner. Genetics is a strange thing. Which maybe makes the task of decoding what High-Functioning Flesh means all the more trickier. Is it labelling people who are capable of extraordinary prowess? Or is it that our own skin or being within ourselves, is a social disability or disease we all struggle with without realising? This is all speculative of course, but judging by their title of Human Remains, forthcoming from their second album, there’s an inkling or two you can take from it. Amongst the wave of troupes reinstating the old blood of industrial’s heyday, this duo from Los Angeles melds a warm, squelchy sequence of keys against the cold mechanical precision of programmed beats, whilst they dictate through the discourse of harmonised aggression. Defiantly old-school in practice, they take the scathing disenchantment of punk’s youth, piece it together with sheet metal from industrial’s proposed collapse of society, and drop a tab of techno to bring it to life, but not overclocking the construct. Human Remains sounds slightly more refined from a production standpoint compared to their previous works, smoother-sounding audio flowing from the keys at the inset, as a bouncy bass hookline interspersed with brighter stabs of synth create an optimistic tone in the track. The continual looping and manipulation of a voice recording and eventual introduction of tightly compressed percussion through out the first minute carry on this ideal, right up until the vocals break through. Then all projected optimism is stripped clean away, given the ghoulish subject matter of the lyrics. It feels like a battle between the expanding vibrant glow, characteristic to the building layers of analogue synths, and the harsh monotone truth of the spoken word, acting as the shroud of darkness, effectively warped by the phasing and pitch-shifting placed upon it. How this transforms the mood from a beautifully blended, 80’s nuanced discotheque floorfiller into a greyed cold wave manifestation of dread and sociopathy, is astonishing and more than a little uncomfortable. But my presumption is that what makes High-Functioning Flesh all the more of a spectacle. Their music is more than just a renaissance period for electronic musicians. It’s a wake-up call. Rather than seamlessly weaving the timeless ambience of three decades past with a fierce beat, they’re taking paranoia, fear and loathing and turning them into a occasionally understated, brutal sensory attack to shatter the illusion of day-by-day modern life. From what I’ve seen and heard, these guys are one of the most cleverly calculated punk bands in the business right now.

Human Remains will be released as a single on 26th February (also my birthday) and is taken from their yet to be titled second album forthcoming on Dais Records. Whilst you keep a look out for that, you’ll be pleased to know they are prolific, with their previous EP and demo available from their own Bandcamp┬ápage and first album Definite Structures is available from Dais Records own store. Most respectable music retailers still apply.

Go tell them how their music makes you feel:

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And if you wish to tell me how this article made you feel, via a like, a follow, a subscription or some nice words, you can do so here:

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Ghost Idols

Hundreds, probably thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of people on this planet claim that they have seen a ghost in their lifetime. But despite footage and images suggesting there may indeed be paranormal activity in this world, the subject still very much stays open for debate. People make fortunes out of it, however sincere or exploitative they may be. The jury is out for me personally. Some claims look more authentic than others, but until I kinda see or experience it for myself, my guess is as good as yours. Hello fate, I didn’t see you there! But whether you want to dispute the authenticity of LA’s Ghost Idols however, you’d be entirely foolhardy to do so. They are an anomaly, but purely because their sound doesn’t fulfil a ticklist for given genre conventions. There are nuances of many sounds absorbed into their matter, perhaps so many that the original sources are all but unrecognisable. Here’s what I can tell you. At its truest centre, Ghost Idols are at best a super heavy indie band, at times pouring enough fuzz and distortion onto a guitar to drown out a building demolition, while keeping the poppy vocal melodies and harmonies present, injected with force straight into your brain. Every second of a Ghost Idols song never misses a beat, there is always something switching or shifting around to demand your attention. Take Heathens from their self-titled EP from 2013. There’s a tirade of thunderous drums, meshing together with roughened chords and optimistic vocal tones that would sit well in Bloc Party’s back pocket, later going into a hardcore style breakdown harbouring a infectious kick pedal pattern, full buckshot-impact sludge guitar accompanying it. There’s even a lovely, understated little solo atop both bass and drums going hell for leather And if they aren’t switching up the texture of the sound, then they constantly switch the time signatures too. Literally every note has meaning and purpose on an unprecedented level. Ghost Idols, unlike ghosts themselves, are something you should fully believe in, as their adventurous sound is so versatile and dynamic, they should be heightened from underground dwellings to mainstream music acceptance.

Their self-titled EP is currently available on a pay-what-you-want basis for a digital copy, or a reasonable sum for a physical copy, as well as their most recent single Monsoons which can be bought on vinyl, all on their Bandcamp page. These guys are also recording an album right now, so any money given to them will be appreciated. They have a killer sound, they deserve it.

https://www.facebook.com/GhostIdols?fref=ts

DC Fallout

For some in the world, the prospect of a nuclear war was one of the most terrifying things imaginable. If you understand the science behind it and realise that the quickly destabilising political climate we find ourselves in, could still herald the near annihilation of the human race today, it is still very much a frightening time to be alive. So obviously you are going to have voices in the face of opposition, and history has found that a lot of those voices express their disgust and dissatisfaction through the brutally honest medium that is punk rock. While hailing from Los Angeles, DC Fallout suggests the aftermath of political suicide from the nation’s capital, and they voice their frustrations through breakneck bursts of seething melodic punk anthems. America is experiencing an existental crisis of sorts, and these four gentlemen know it, running barbed truth after truth on all aspects of social commentary through gung-ho guitar shredding that dives into some meaty breakdowns, consitently excellent rapid-fire delivery and an unmistakable voice of reason and righteousness you cannot ignore. Some of their songs have a decidedly more upbeat delivery, but Dominoes is one of their more serious calls for revolution, touching on a more melancholy beginning, before drums count in the full-speed force of mighty guitars and a message to inspire a generation. Punk in its purest form is protest, and DC Fallout are gifted in their ability to convey their opinions so poetically and with such speed, skill and impact, it seems criminal that they resonate with so many, yet so few not know of them.

Objector from 2013, the Serf’s Up EP from 2011 and Retreat! from 2010 are all available in physical and digital format from DC Fallout’s Bandcamp page, for a respectable asking price.

https://www.facebook.com/dcfallout?fref=ts

Orange Tulip Conspiracy

Paranoia is something that seems to grip hold of a large portion of us at times, like a leash round the neck. The constant feeling of unease that somebody is watching us, or that there is a much larger agenda happening right underneath our noses. This state of mental chaos can be the birthing place of conspiracies, tales that hold weight as to why events transpired in the manner they did, more often than not focused around pivotal moment in history. As far as a band named Orange Tulip Conspiracy goes however, the jury may be out on that one. For this Los Angeles five-piece, their work remains focused on a deeply involving instrumental cinematic experience, drawing influences from Balkan folk music, lounge jazz, classical music and some heavier aspects of progressive rock at times. It seems odd yet rather fitting when you have a rich, smoky ambience of expertly woven strings, every now and again plunging into total dread from gigantic amounts of distortion entwined with the guitar. Luckily across the six and a half minutes of Fall Creek, that monster hides its ugly head. This stays as an extended jam of cultural magnificence, hypnotic in drums maintaining a steady rhythm the entire time whilst strings and saxophone recount the tales of days gone by. The atmosphere is sitting around a fire, in a tent that towers above you, whilst the haze emitted slowly envelops those listening into a trance of total relaxation. The conspiracy I guess then is this: how can five Los Angeles musicians create the sound of traditional Eastern Europe so perfectly and yet very few have experienced their astonishing craftsmanship? Keep an eye on those orange tulips, who knows what other wonders they have in store.

The band now go under the name of Atomic Ape, and apparently their album Swarm sounds a lot like a spy thriller. Fancy. Anyway, both that and Orange Tulip Conspiracy can be bought on the Atomic Ape Bandcamp page in digital and physical formats.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Orange-Tulip-Conspiracy/167129410109217?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/AtomicApeBand?fref=ts

Continues

Coupling seems to be very much the main life objective, the desire to find company so you don’t spend your years on this planet alone. For some people that means friendship, or a relationship, sometimes both. In the case of Los Angeles electro punk legends Babyland, the precursor to Continues’ one man tour de force, they shared a long lasting friendship and a business relationship that lasted over a 20 year career. Daniel Gatto, the voice of Babyland, since 2009 went in a different direction, and toned down the jittery synth strokes, industrial strength percussion and throat-run-raw shouting, into a smoother, refined synth pop operation. The same impassioned delivery is there, verging on almost desperation at times, and the same production values remain, sticking heavily with an array of modular synths and drum machines, but the formula has been distilled into far more digestible nuggets of electronica gold. Love On The Run, by far my favourite song of this week, is an exceptional seance of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, bar extra eerie, chilling synth lines and Jimmy Somerville’s falsetto range swapped for the spirit of punk in a spoken poetry rehearsal. But there’s a groove that the coincidental inspiration lacks that Continues makes up for in the precision engineered synths and drum pattern working in unison that edges it out very slightly. VERY, very slightly. At times, the 2012 self-titled debut recalls The Cure, but if Robert Smith abandoned the gloom of goth to make perfect electronica an elder crowd swore they remembered, and that is a compliment of the highest order. For a one man show, Continues is utterly fantastic, pure and simple.

The 2012 debut can be found on Mattress Records’ Bandcamp and at most respectable music retailers, for a reasonable sum. Also, for your own amusement, Love On The Run was edited into a loop of Noel Fielding dancing in The Mighty Boosh, if that seems like something you might be entertained by. Go YouTube it.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Continues/140361789324344?fref=ts

3TEETH

I have a theory as to how this band got its name. Imagine three of industrial’s biggest names, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and KMFDM getting into a physical altercation in a bar. In the ensuing brawl, Trent Reznor, Al Jourgensen and Sascha Konietzko all lose a tooth and the sheer brainpower and psychic energy between the teeth, births this Los Angleles four piece. Perhaps far too sci-fi or comic book plot a reason, but I’d pay to see that adapted. Joking aside, there’s very little to laugh about 3TEETH. This is dark, dark music, with elements of all three of those bands, manifesting itself into a soundtrack for the sinister of psyche. Cold, mechanical and splattered in grey, 3TEETH’s debut album represents somewhat of a restore factory settings reset to industrial’s origins and principles and for a band only two years of age, their vision of an electronic oblivion is all the more staggering. Unveiled, a lighter shade of oblivion, combines haunting modular synths, a metallic and electronic percussion arrangement and a monotone snarl inside of a glitchy, malfunctioning server room, echoing to high heaven. The 80’s meets the 90’s, and the track is a gloomy but glorious work of art. 3TEETH present to you a show reel of urban decay and social deconstruction so well produced and so well composed, very few words can truly do it justice.

3TEETH’s debut album, and an album of remixes from high profile industrial names can be purchased on their Bandcamp page, or at all respectable music retailers, in physical or digital format.

https://www.facebook.com/3Teeth?fref=ts